Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne discusses the reinstatement of OGL 1.0a, and offers some picks for RPG Week.

The controversy over Wizards of the Coast’s mishandling of its proposed update of the OGL (see "OGL 1.1 Furor") even made it into the national media this past week, as NPR ran two stories on the topic.  The early afternoon Here and Now program ran a five minute segment on the topic, while later in the day All Things Considered broadcast a slightly longer piece.  The Here and Now piece approached the topic more from WotC’s perspective while All Things Considered has interviews with creators and fans.  I still find it amazing that the subject has stirred enough controversy to attract attention at the national level, but I guess putting the core mechanics for a multi-million-dollar game into an OGL and proposing to put them into Creative Commons is not a common occurrence.

I did have a perfectly good column already written to follow up last week’s column (see "OGL Version 1.2 Still Some Concerns"), but then WotC decided to blink and released a notice on D&D Beyond:

"The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we're acting now.

We are leaving OGL 1.0a in place, as is.  Untouched.

We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a Creative Commons license.

You choose which you prefer to use.

This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use.  We don't control that license and cannot alter or revoke it.  It's open and irrevocable in a way that doesn't require you to take our word for it.  And its openness means there's no need for a VTT policy.  Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door.  There's no going back

WotC has already posted the SRD 5.1 under a Creative Commons license.  I do note that the post does not say the company could not change the original OGL, just that it was not going to do so.

It appears many streamers that show Dungeons & Dragons content have encouraged their viewers to switch to Pathfinder or to another fantasy RPG system such as Castles and Crusades by Troll Lord Games.  Troll Lord has even spent the past few weeks running a 50% off sale on all their D&D 5E compatible merchandise.

With that, here are a few other RPGs that we do fairly well with that are not D&D:

Fiasco.  Published by Bully Pulpit Games and playable by 3 to 5 players with no gamemaster, Fiasco allows the players to play out their own Coen Brothers or Tarantino story in about the same time it takes to watch one.  You can play with the basic rule book or the boxed upgrade, and then add on one of the multiple expansion packs Bully Pulpit has thoughtfully published for additional sales.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  Published by the eponymous company, this game is currently only orderable direct from the publisher and has a well-deserved reputation for pushing the boundaries on sex and violence.  Still, when they participated, their offering for Free RPG Day was usually our most popular one, both due to edgy content and the quality of presentation.  Players tend to be fairly obsessed and while it sells slowly here, when a customer finds it, they buy several expansions.

Cats of Catthulhu.  This is also from an eponymous publisher as this appears to be their only RPG. Players take on the role of cats tasked with defeating conspiracies of cosmic chaos as well as liberating treats from confinement.  There Is the core rulebook and two supplements and they are inexpensive enough that a customer that finds them usually buys all three.

Thousand Year Old Vampire.  Another small press RPG, this game won 3 Ennie awards in 2020.  A solo RPG, the player takes on the role of a millennia-old vampire recording their life and memories over the centuries, vainly holding onto them even as time takes them away.  Play can take a few hours or stretch on for weeks.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess, as noted, is only available through the publisher.  I have picked up Thousand Year Old Vampire and Cats of Catthulhu through Indie Press Revolution while Bully Pulpit sells Fiasco through most distributors.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of

This coverage is part of RPG Week, celebrating all things RPG at ICv2.  For more ICv2 RPG Week articles, click here.